How To Enjoy Alcohol While Trying To Keep In Shape
We all enjoy a drink every now and again but the words alcohol and healthy lifestyle are rarely found in the same sentence. Most of us know that our performance in the gym, or lack of it, is directly correlated to our alcohol intake the previous day.
Alcohol consumption can have a negative effect on our sleeping patterns. And we need good quality sleep to give our body the best chance to burn fat and build muscle.
It can cause an increase in the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, which also hinders the body’s fat burning capacity.
Beer, wine, cocktails, and mixed drinks all contain large amounts of sugar. As the body processes the alcohol these sugars are stored directly as energy in our fat cells.
If that wasn't enough, alcohol also increases appetite so you are likely to eat more while you’re boozing. And those late night kebabs and burgers, which become more appealing the more you drink, will also be stored in the body’s fat reserves.
So can you enjoy and drink and still keep in shape? Well, it depends.
If you are a professional athlete who needs to be at a peak level of performance most of the year, or someone looking to achieve 5% body fat, then no, you won’t be able to hit the sauce and achieve your goals.
But if you are a regular guy who wants to train hard 3 or 4 times a week in order to feel strong and look good in a t shirt then yes, you can enjoy a trip to the pub once in a while.
Below are a few tips that will help you out:
If you are completely new to working out or have been away from the gym for a prolonged period I recommend avoiding alcohol for the first couple of weeks to give yourself the best chance of success. If you can abstain for longer then great, go for it. You may surprise yourself and find you don’t miss it that much at all.
I was 40 last year and know that when I drink I’m going to be feeling it the next day. So now I choose to drink on special occasions such as birthdays, bank holidays, weddings, the festive season, holidays etc. Ask yourself if you really need to be sinking 4 cans of Stella while sitting indoors watching the football.
Decrease your calorie intake slightly during the day. Get a gym session in and push yourself as hard as you can to burn some extra calories. (Make the day after your ‘rest day’ and aim to get back in the gym the day after that). Have a decent sized meal before you head out. Proteins and fats take longer to digest and will fill you up for longer.
Water that is. Alcohol is a diuretic so it will dehydrate you. Keep yourself topped up at all times. You should be aiming for 1 litre of water for every 25kg of bodyweight anyway but if you are planning on drinking then increase your intake slightly on the day. Try to have water during your night out too if you can. And a glass to two before you hit the sack will help keep you hydrated while you sleep. I always leave a glass by the side of the bed incase I wake up thirsty.
If it’s been a particularly heavy session the next day can be a struggle. The temptation to stuff ourselves with junk food is hard to resist. Try not to have any in the house. Prepare the day before by stocking the fridge with healthier options. Lying around on the sofa can make it even harder so get up, get showered, and go for a walk to clear your head. You’ll feel better for it and burn a few calories in the process.
Completed all your gym sessions for the week and nailed your nutrition? Then bottoms up, you deserve it!
If you are looking for any advice on starting a new exercise programme or building new habits then please feel free to get in touch. I am happy to get on call with you to answer any of your questions.
Take it easy